A sell out Plymouth crowd were treated to a sensational final day of action at the British National Diving Cup, as local hero Tom Daley and rising star Millie Fowler took home the final two titles after a thrilling weekend of diving.
Both the National Cup and Tom Daley returned to the Plymouth Life Centre after a two year hiatus, and both delivered the levels of excitement we’ve come to expect, Daley in particular in imperious form as he added the 10m individual title to the 10m Synchro he’d won the previous day.
After taking time out from diving in 2018, Daley looked happy and healthy, and his form was exactly where he’d want it to be at this early point of what is a very important year; the World Championships in South Korea in July the focus as he looks to defend his title and secure his spot for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which are fast approaching.
Leading throughout, Daley delivered an extremely strong card, capped by an exceptional final pair of dives. In fact Daley saved his very best until last, as with the very final dive of the weekend, he produced a sublime 106.2 Back 3 ½ Somersaults to secure the National Cup title with an impressive 510.35 score.
Of his performance, the reigning world champion said:
“I’m really happy with the way it went today – of course there were things that I could improve on, but overall, and to finish on the dive I did, I’m really happy. It’s nice to be able to go back to training next week and have those things that I have to work on, as you don’t want to be diving at the very, very best of your ability at the start of the year – you want to be saving it for the World Championships.
“I knew I was in the running to get a 500 point score, which is what every men’s platform diver wants to get to and I knew I needed like 100 points. Standing on the end of the board I knew I’d have to get it moving and do a good one, so I was really happy with it.
“I love coming back to Plymouth and diving in front of a hometown crowd. It’s been nice to have my mum and Lance watching, and my brothers were able to come along, so I’m really happy about that.”
As Daley pointed out in his post-event interviews, the standard of diving in Britain has never been better, with battle for silver and bronze going down the final round. In the mix throughout were Daley’s Dive London teammates Matty Lee, Noah Williams and Kyle Kothari, as were Plymouth duo Matthew Dixon and Aidan Heslop, much to the delight of the ever more vocal Plymouth crowd.
Despite missing one of his dives, Dixon kept his composure to score a 78.20 and an 80.00 with his final two dives to secure silver, whilst Kothari delivered four 80+ efforts, including an 89.60 Inward 3 ½ Somersaults (407C) to land bronze.
Earlier in the day the Women’s 3m final served up the biggest surprise of the weekend, as Millie Fowler delivered a flawless series to take home the title.
With the focus on some of her more senior competitors, Fowler quietly went about her business, although Dive London duo Maria Papworth Burrell and Scarlett Mew Jensen were snapping at her heels and eventually took silver and bronze respectively.
However it was Fowler who sent the crowd into raptures as she produced a beautiful Forward 3 ½ Somersaults (107B) in round four and a Back 2 ½ Somersaults (205B) with her final dive to win gold. In the end her 302.20 total saw her run out a clear winner.
Of her breakthrough performance the City of Sheffield diver, who’s previous best result was a silver medal at the European Junior Championships in 2016, said:
“I’m so overwhelmed and I can’t really believe that’s just happened! I’ve never really done a dive list before where I’ve put all my dives together, five in a row, so I’m just so happy. My first goal was to make then final and then to make a PB, as that’s always the goal for every competition.
“This means so much – I never really thought I’d do it. I’m lost for words.”
In qualifying everything indicated it would be a two horse race, as Kat Torrance headed Grace Reid by less than 3 points, but the duo failed to add to the two-a-piece medal tally that they’d racked up earlier in the weekend.
The next major event in the British diving calendar is the London leg of the FINA Diving World Series, which is taking place on 17-19 May. Tickets are still available via the British Swimming website.
Full results from all of weekend’s events can be found here
To re-watch all of the day’s action in full head to the British Swimming YouTube channel